By Shelley A. Sackett, correspondent
Haunted Happenings, the annual month-long festival that crowns Salem the world capital of all things Halloween, will kick off its third weekend with the beloved Fiesta Shows Carnival on Derby Street. Famed for having the most thrilling Midway, Fiesta Shows owns and operates over 100 amusement rides ranging in excitement from the most popular Kiddie rides to the ultimate thrill seekers.
The Carnival runs from 1:00 p.m. (12 noon on Sunday) until 10:00 p.m. on weekends and from 3:00 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. on weekdays from Friday, October 14 through Monday, October 31.
“There is something special happening every weekend,” said Kate Fox, Executive Director of Destination Salem, the city’s Office of Tourism & Cultural Affairs. Salem Haunted Happenings typically draws over 250,000 visitors to Salem during October.
In addition to the outdoor fun and frolic of the Carnival, there are plenty of opportunities for lovers of theater, film, séances, tours and much more.
CinemaSalem at Museum Place Mall screens the terrific “The History of Halloween”, a short film shot in 3D that will entertain any age, and “The True 1692”, a 3D film that tells the story of the Salem witchcraft hysteria of 1692. (Visit CinemaSalem.com for the full schedule).
For a more up close and personal 1692 experience, History Alive, Inc. presents the 25th season of “Cry Innocent: The People vs. Bridget Bishop” at Old Town Hall at 32 Derby Square. The live, interactive event allows participants to play the part of the Puritan jury, hearing testimony, cross examining witnesses and deciding the outcome of the famous witchcraft trial. (Visit CryInnocentSalem.com for more information).
If dinner and theater is your treat of choice, then head to the Hawthorne Hotel on Friday, October 14 or Finz on Saturday, October 15 at 7:00 p.m. for “Ghostbusted!”, the family friendly whodunit where the actors perform tableside and diners help solve the mystery while enjoying a buffet dinner. (For more information and to make reservations, go to HauntedDinnerTheater.com ).
If magic is more your cup of tea, then head to St. Peter’s Church at 24 St. Peter Street for the Salem Haunted Magic Show, a live 75-minute show filled with a unique blend of inconceivable stunts, bizarre demonstrations, dark comedy and — of course — audience participation. (Visit TheSalemMagicShow.com for more information).
If your Halloween experience isn’t complete without a séance (or two), then Festival of the Dead’s authentic nightly séances at The Omen at 184 Essex Street should fit the bill. For a complete listing of all events, including the Official Witches’ Ball and the Annual Psychic Fair and Witches’ Expo, visit festivalofthedead.com.
New to Haunted Happenings this year, The Salem Waterfront Hotel at 225 Derby Street will host Chowderfest, a Breast Cancer Benefit, on Saturday, October 15 from 11:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. For a $10 “spoon fee”, visitors can sample chowder from restaurants in the North Shore and vote for the Best Chowder. All proceeds will be donated to NSMC/MassGeneral/NS Cancer Services.
Trolley tours and harbor boat cruises let revelers enjoy more of Salem by land and by sea. For landlubbers, Salem Trolley offers two options: a one-hour narrated historical tours, and “Tales & Tombstones” a special evening tour that visits scenes of Salem’s haunted past and forgotten secrets. (For reservations, visit SalemTrolley.com ). Gallows Hill’s “Ghosts & Legends Trolley” is a sinister and comical guided look at Salem’s history. (For more information, visit GallowsHillSalem.com )
Mahi Mahi Cruises has three tours to choose from: a “Haunted Happenings” tour, complete with face painting and Tarot card readings; a 90-minute lighthouse and foliage cruise; and a 21+ “Halloween Boo!s Cruise” with DJ, costumes, prizes and — of course — booze. For more details, visit MahiCruises.com.
If it seems like an impossible task to keep all the schedules and events straight, you’re in luck. Destination Salem has published “The Guide to Salem Haunted Happenings”, the zombie-themed essential handbook for getting the most out of Haunted Happenings. It includes calendars, articles, Haunted Happenings “Dos and Don’ts” and information about Salem’s tours, attractions, entertainment, parking and transportation. The guide is available at the National Park Service Salem Visitors Center at 2 New Liberty St. or at hauntedhappenings.org/.